Moving On

Hey all maybe one of you that read this…we’re moving! Here’s the new web address:

https://jbarkin7.wixsite.com/mysite/about

Le Creuset’s Mini Cocettes – Worth It?

So Le Creuset makes these mini cocettes — they are basically mini dutch ovens. Talk about an ADORABLE way to serve a meal, huh!?

They come in both ceramic or wrought iron (the ceramic is MUCH cheaper) — I have the ceramic. One of the greatest things is that these are “bakeware to serveware” — they’re both oven-safe and can be used to serve your food (so plate safe, obviously when cooled). We have them in a lovely shade of purple, though when I looked on Le Creuset’s site our shade was no longer listed: cassis. Below are some of the really fun and vibrant shades they offer, all of which would look lovely on your dining table!

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Ours are this deep shade of purple, which you can still find on third-party sites. 

I often use these handy little guys when we want to feel fancy, or in the fall and winter to make delicious comfort food. Some favorite recipes I use with these are:

As you can see, pot pies in these babies is a big hit. I also like to do any kind of pasta bake — see previous blog post — in these little guys if a heightened presentation is desired for the meal.

The Downside: They are smaller and therefore the portions are smaller. While I’m all for a healthy serving size, if I know one of our bigger eater friends are coming for dinner, I’d opt for a full size dutch oven for whatever I’m making. These little guys are just that: little. They’re perfect if you plan to serve one of the above recipes with sides, but alone the serving might be a bit small.

Overall, I would highly, HIGHLY recommend these IF you have the cabinet space and are into presentation (sometimes) as we are at my house!

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On My Hiatus: Weddings Take Up A Lot of Time

Howdy all!

So you’ve probably noted a prolonged lack of posts. Well, I got married May 17th, so things were a bit chaotic for a while, and it was all too stressful to try and handle weekly blogging.

The great news is that now I have a bunch of recipes to post! Cucumber Lemonade, Sesame Noodles, Thai Peanut Chicken, Macaroni & 4-Cheese Gratin, Maple-Walnut Salmon, and more!

Expect lots of fun stuff very, VERY soon!

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary & Thyme

So, yes, I’m sort of cheating today…only giving a side dish and all. But, I will be posting a new recipe later this week! Maybe even two!

And besides, these babies…well, they’re delicious!

Serves 4

Preheat oven 425

Ingredients:
– 1 bag of fingerling potatoes (embarrassingly, I forgot to take down the size)
– 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripping the leaves from the stalk (chopped finely)
– 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (depending on your affinity for the pungent beast – I personally LOVE garlic)
– 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, whole
– 1 tbsp. olive oil

– Cut potatoes in halves, horizontally. Roll in olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and thyme.
– Place potatoes on cookie sheet, lined with silicone, aluminum, or some other stick-preventative measure. Place in oven for 40-45 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Finish with S&P, serve hot!

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Sriracha Sesame Pasta with Veggies

Tonight we had some friends gathered, so I needed to come up with something easy, neat, delicious, and filling. So, on the fly, I came up with this. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a huge hit! So, of course, I had to share it!

Also, this recipe is vegan by it’s very nature, though the pasta YOU use will be the defining factor.

For six servings, we used two boxes of pasta. The type of pasta is really up to you – or if you’re like us your cupboard – so not that it matters, but we used rigatoni and farfalle pastas. Cook the pasta al dente, as you normally would! Meanwhile…

Begin cooking the veggies a few minutes before the pasta, saut√©ing them on medium to medium-night heat. At the end, you’ll want those just browned edges; slightly charred with the burnt taste. The veggies can be whatever you choose. We used two bell peppers and a whole Vidalia onion.

Sriracha Seasoning (for Vegetable or meat component):
2-3 tbsp. Sriracha sauce, to taste
1 tbsp. sesame oil

As the veggies and pasta cook, ready the pasta sauce:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. cilantro
2 tsp. lemon juice

Once the pasta and veggies are cooked, strain pasta and return it to pot. Pour the mixed pasta sauce over the pasta, turning sauce through pasta, until distributed evenly. Then, add vegetables, turning until spread evenly.

Serve hot in a bowl. Don’t try to use plates…really…it’s pathetic…we tried.

Enjoy!

Ps. Sorry my pictures are in the aftermath ūüėź

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This sushi art is the coolest thing!

How cool?! Had to repost this! What a talented sushi chef!!!

SoraNews24 -Japan News-

sushi7

Edible art is kind of a thing these days, especially in Asia, where seemingly every dish is so artfully crafted and cute you couldn‚Äôt possibly eat it ‚Äď especially when it takes the

form of a cat poking out of your latte

.

This admittedly somewhat wasteful art form may have reached its pinnacle with these mind-boggling works of makizushi magnificence.

View original post 192 more words

Tomato & Cheese Tartlets

These are a savory, delicious treat! They are so adorable and fun to make, and they just look great on a plate! These mini tarts filled with goat cheese, cream, and spices are topped with fresh cut slices of tomato and baked to perfection.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 package of Pilsbury Crescent rolls

6 oz Boursin Garlic & Herb cheese

2 tablespoons heavy cream, or 1/4 cup milk

1/2 vidalia onion, finely chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

3 large tomatoes, I use both yellow and red

3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Parmesean cheese

Take the Pilsbury rolls, and using a non-stick tartlet pan, press out by hand the crescent roll into a crust for the tartlet. Then take the cream or milk, Boursin, and salt and pepper and place in a small mixing bowl. Then, using a hand mixer or food processor, whip all these together. Finally, using a spoon, stir in the onion pieces. Fill each tartlet pan will equal amounts of filling until none left or pans are full. Then, slice the large tomatoes into medallions, and place on top of each tartlet, covering the tops of each entirely.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, and then add basil and parmesean as garnish. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve hot.

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(Sorry for the crummy picture, we were too excited…also, we were out of fresh basil, so I mixed the store bough flakes into the whipped cheese/cream)

Happy Eating!

Braised Beef Brisket: Savory Deliciousness

This recipe is a combination of recipes that my father formulated and I’ve taken my own spin on. As a result, and as usual, I will say: TASTE YOURS. Do yours to your liking, not my recipe.

Ingredients:

1 4lb beef brisket

kosher salt and ground black pepper

1/2 to 1 can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup water or chicken or beef broth

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

3 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1/2-1 cup red wine

First: take the meat and coat it in the salt and black pepper. Stick the raw brisket in the oven, at 375, allowing each side to sear slightly. While doing this, place all the other ingredients into your dutch oven, except the bay leaves. Make sure you have enough liquid to cover the meat, but not enough for it to be swimming in it. Then place the brisket in your dutch oven, which you’ll want on medium to medium high heat. Take the bay leaves, and using a spoon or spatula, pat them to the meat, ensuring they stay on the meat, not just floating around. Cover your dutch oven tightly, and allow it to cook, checking it frequently, for 3-4 hours.¬†

For this recipe, I use a wooden spatula to check the meat’s tenderness. You’ll know it’s ready because it will just fall apart to the touch.¬†

You can add many things to this. Some recipes I referenced called for sugar, leeks, potatoes, parsley, chili powder, Sriracha, olive oil, brandy, mustard, etc. Feel free to comment and let me know what you added! Tweaking recipes is half the fun!

 

 

Happy cooking!

 

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Keeping It Classic: Vanilla Cupcakes & Dark Chocolate Frosting

For a friend’s birthday and Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to whip up a batch of cupcakes. I decided to keep it simple and classic, and adapted two recipes for this entry. The first is the recipe for the cupcakes themselves, which is from The New Best Recipe

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Their recipe, “Yellow Cupcakes with Simple Chocolate Frosting,” can be found on pages 844-845 in the “Cakes” section. I made a dozen, as the recipe calls for. Their ingredients are listed as follows (what I adjusted is replaced next to their ingredient and amount, struck through).

Servings: 12 cupcakes
Oven temp: 350

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened – I used 10 tbsp. and mine was borderline melted…
1/2 cup sour cream – the butter replaced this.
1 large egg, plus two large egg yolks, room temp I used 3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Addition: 3/4 cup water, room temp.

I changed the ingredients in mine not because I wanted to alter someone else’s recipe, but because I wanted to whip up something delicious and quickly, not to mention on a budget! So I feel like maybe some of you are like me, and you may have certain things on hand and not others! In this case, I didn’t have sour cream. Knowing it was partially a texture need and partially flavor and moisture, I decided to replace the sour cream with butter: two extra tbsp. and the eggs: two egg whites, making three whole eggs.

*This is just an example of how you can alter a recipe and make it work for you. Honestly, the internet can be helpful, provided you search generally and double check (or triple check) the answers…*

Anyway, back to these cupcakes! So first, I creamed the sugar and eggs, then added the butter and vanilla. I then added the flour, baking powder, and water as I saw fit. Since I didn’t use sour cream, I knew I’d likely need to make up for that liquid somewhere, and water is never a bad idea with cakes. Now, I’m no scientist so I can’t explain why, but with cookies the water has a spongy effect on the dough, which is much more suited for cake doughs.

I wanted to make a rich chocolate frosting, but I didn’t have any baker’s chocolate or chocolate chips at home! Another “on-hand” issue! What I did have was Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, so I Googled “dark chocolate frosting cocoa powder” and found a listing right away from Food.com. I adapted their recipe as well, and found I really liked my adaption!

Dark Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

1/8 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 a vanilla bean
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup half and half
3/8 cup of unsalted butter (I used exactly 5 tbsp)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (however, as illustrated by the user who uploaded this to their site, you may adjust this amount according to richness desired)

First, let me say that most frosting recipes I have used are WAY off on portions. This recipe really nails it, which I can appreciate as someone who hates to waste any food. Secondly, make sure you have the proper tools. When you make frosting, it’s important that the butter be the proper temperature. For my frosting, I actually melted the butter. You see, I opted to make these on a whim, so the only butter available was frozen. I did, upon heating the butter, allow it to cool – and NO, I did not use a microwave. Side note: we don’t even own a microwave – they’re gross!

Using a stand mixer or food processor, mix the sugar, butter and vanilla. Gradually add the cocoa powder, pouring a small amount in at a time. Note: if you’re just going for smooth, rich flavor, just dump it all in. This gradual addition will allow you to add more or less for richer flavor. My box was at the tail end, so after a point I just dumped the contents. My measurement may be somewhat off (I’d guess by a max of 1/4 cup).

Allow 20 minutes for the cupcakes to cool on a cooking rack, until tops are room temp at touch. Then frost, and serve these delicious confections!

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Happy baking!

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Eggvocado

So let’s just say if you’re reading this, you probably like food. And what’s better than food, you ask? Food inside of food, eaten as one amazing¬†SUPERFOOD: Eggvocado.

What do you need? Well, this recipe explains how to make a pair of eggvocadoes, from one whole avocado.

 

Oven temp: 400

1 Avocado

2 Eggs

A teaspoon measuring spoon

Ground black pepper 

Kosher salt

Take the avocado and cut it in half. Remove the pit, and then with the teaspoon measure, score out the cavity left by the pit. Break a single egg into the scored pits on each side (Note: if using whites OR yolks, do¬†NOT score the avocado; this is also much healthier). Now, this part can be tricky, so don’t be discouraged if you make a bit of a mess the first couple of times. Oh! And don’t let that avo go to waste, nosh on the scrapings while you cook!

Use bits of tin foil to create braces to balance the avocado halves on a cookie sheet, and I would also advise lining the cookie sheet. You can use non-stick spray or sheets and skip this step, or you can use tin foil or parchment paper (with non-stick spray or butter), or you can use what I prefer: Miu France Silicone Baking Liners. These silicone liners are resuable (making them green, yay!) and never stick to the pan or the food. They are easy to clean and easy to store too! Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stick those babies in the oven!

 

Bake the eggvocadoes for 15-25 minutes, based on how cooked you like your eggs. Personally, I make these because I think a cooked white, runny yolk, and warm avocado complement each other perfectly. 

I usually add things to mine, so here are a few ways to season the eggvocadoes:

РSprinkle feta, freshly chopped basil, and paprika (or just any one of these)

РSprinkle bacon, shredded cheddar, and green onion (or just any one of these)

Sriracha chili sauce, green onion, and sesame seeds (or just any one of these)

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Eggvocado seasoned with feta and ground black pepper and kosher salt.

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